Food Handling Guidelines

The purpose of this policy is to help student organizations that are selling or giving food away as part of a fund raising or promotional activity to avoid selling or distributing products that might be considered hazardous and dangerous to those who consume the food items.

What are considered hazardous food items? 
Hazardous foods are defined in the State of Nebraska as a food that is natural or synthetic and requires temperature control because it is capable of supporting: the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms; the growth of botulism; or in raw shell eggs, the growth of Salmonella

Potentially hazardous food includes an animal food (a food of animal origin) that is raw or heat treated; a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts; cut melons; and garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way that results in mixtures that do not support growth.  "Potentially hazards food" does not include: an air-cooled hard-boiled egg with shell intact, or a shell egg that is not hard-boiled but has been treated to destroy all viable Salmonellae; a food with an aw value (a measure of "Water Activity" - free water - in meat, poultry, fish and other foods - either, fresh or processed) of 0.85 or less; a food with a pH level of 4.6 or below when measured at 24 C (75 F); a food, in an unopened hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of non-refrigerated storage and distribution; a food for which laboratory evidence demonstrates that the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms or the growth of salmonella in eggs or botulism cannot occur, such as a food that has an aw and a pH that are above the levels specified above and that may contain a preservative; other barrier to the growth of microorganisms, or a combination of barriers that inhibit the growth of microorganisms; or a food that does not support the growth of microorganisms even though the food may contain an infectious or toxigenic microorganism or chemical or physical contaminant at a level sufficient to cause illness.

Safe foods are dry and high-sugar foods such as breads, rolls, cakes (without cream fillings), fresh fruits, vegetables, cookies, crackers, candies, and dried foods such as granola, raisins and some dried meats such as beef jerky.

Any organization wishing to serve or sell food must follow these basic guidelines:

  • Always wash hands and fingernails thoroughly before handling food
  • Wear gloves whenever serving cooked or ready-to-eat foods
    • Gloves can be purchased from Sodexo Campus Services
    • Gloves should be changed as needed
    • Do NOT reuse gloves if torn/contaminated, or if you take them off.
  • Make sure that all equipment has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.  Should a serving piece fall to the ground or otherwise becomes contaminated it should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water, rinsed and immersed in hot water (140 F) that contains tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  • Obtain food only from reliable sources.  Never accept donated food if you do not know how it has been prepared or handled beforehand
  • Wash all fresh food items thoroughly to remove soil, manure, bacteria and pesticides residue.
  • Foods should be protected from contamination during distribution by being kept in covered serving dishes or containers.
  • Keep raw foods separate from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.  This helps to avoid transfer of bacteria and cross contamination.
  • All processed meats (for example:  ground beef, hot dogs) must be cooked to a temperature of 165F (180F for poultry) to kill bacteria.  No rare hamburgers may be served.  Student organizations may borrow thermometers from Sodexo for this purpose; should they be lost or broken, the organization will have to pay for their replacement.
  • Cold foods must be kept below 40 F in ice-filled coolers.
  • Hot foods must be kept above 140 F.  Never leave prepared food standing at room temperature!
  • Food should be served immediately following preparation.
  • Foods should not be served for longer than 2 hours after which, regardless of their temperature, they should be disposed of.  Paper plates, cups and other serving items should be kept clean.  Should any of these fall to the ground or otherwise become contaminated, they should be thrown away. 

Procedures to accomplish the above guidelines:

  • To order food from University Dining Services, Godfather's or Blimpie, contact Catering at 280-2446.
  • Only student organizations planning fund raising events or self-promotional events by selling / providing food items are exempt from the exclusivity clause of the University?s food service agreement with its provider, Sodexo Campus Services.
  • If the student organization wishes to use University serving or cooking equipment, or prepare food within University dining areas, including its kitchens, it must be done so under the supervision and direction of University Dining Services personnel and fees may be charged for this service.
  • Student organizations must also complete a "Student Activities Office Form" located on the SAO's CU Involved page under the forms section.

If you have questions about what is safe to prepare or serve, or have other questions about food safety, please contact Mike Fleming, General Manager, University Dining Services, Brandeis Hall, 280-1774.

Source Documents:

"Food Safety for Bazaars, Buffets, and Community Suppers" by M. Susan Brewer, Extension Specialist, Foods and Nutrition; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, North Central Regional Extension Publication, No. 523, June 1994.

"Planning for Carried Meals", by Tim Roberts, Extension Specialist, Food Safety and Ann A. Hertzler, Extension Specialist, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise; Virginia Tech; Virginia Cooperative Extension, Publication Number 348-014, Revised 2001

"Food Safety for Temporary Food Service Establishments" by Julie A. Albrecht, Extension Food Specialist; Cooperative Extension, Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.